tv The Last Word MSNBC August 20, 2013 10:00pm-11:01pm PDT
o'donnell. we have breaking scandal news today. the real scandal at the irs, the one the political media still doesn't know about is finally going to court. >> we don't speculate on what we might find. >> the so-called scandal at the irs. >> we believe that it was ideological. clearly affected only conservative groups. >> if you have not much about it lately. >> tuesday august 20th, 2013. >> has the u.s. cut off aid to egypt? >> what is going on with san diego's mayor?
>> glenn greenwald is lashing out at authorities. >> ted cruz tried to rally the republicans. >> to defund the president's health care plan. >> holding town hall meetings against obama care. >> now is the single best time we have to de-fund obama care. >> i don't think shutting down the government is not a good idea. >> we are standing up to take this country back. >> why can't the republicans all get on the same page? >> it is my honor to endorse him for the united states senate. >> chris christie's endorsement of steve lonegan. >> i am proud to have him as a candidate for the united states senate. >> lonegan has a chance to win. >> cory booker is way ahead in nearly every poll. >> why can't the republicans all get on the same page. >> we don't speculate on what we might find. >> they say this is a fool's errand. >> i'm proud to have him as a candidate for the united states senate?
>> 99 nights ago at this hour, on this program an irs scandal was exposed for the first time. the real scandal is what the irs did in 1959 when it changed the meaning of the english language. when the irs decided that tax-exempt status could be granted even if an organization was not exclusively for the promotion of social welfare. but simply primarily for the social welfare. and that changed from exclusively to primarily, allowing political organizations to buy political advertise not guilty -- in support of candidates and do so as a tax-exempt provision of the law that was never, never intended for them to hide behind.
and that became way too complicated for the media to follow. so they remain fixated on the scandal, that they called the so-called irs targeting of conservative political groups for special scrutiny when applying for 501(c)(4) tax exempt status. >> this was the targeting of the president's political enemies effectively, and lies about it during the election year. >> my question is, who is going to jail over this scandal? >> well, no one is going to jail, but someone is going to court. tomorrow, common chris van hollen, the ranking member of the budget committee will file a lawsuit in court against the treasury committee to enforce the irs to enforce the law as
written, which is that 501(c)(4)'s must be operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare. the fake irs scandal became even faker today when democrats on the house, ways and means committee released documents showing that the irs applied even more scrutiny to political organizations favoring democrats seeking 501(c)(4) status. and they did it to conservative groups. the word "emerge" for example was one of the search terms that the irs used to screen applications because the word emerge they found tended to indicate the political groups supporting democrats, such as merge nevada, merge maine, and merge massachusetts, all three of which were actually denied 501(c)(4) status. because the irs found that they were set up to benefit democratic candidates.
meanwhile, not one, just remember this about this so-called scandal. not one conservative or tea party group was ever denied tax-exempt status by the irs in this so-called scandal. joining me now for an exclusive interview, congress van hollen. go ahead and take as many minutes that you want. it has been many days that i have been harping relentlessly on the law, saying that 501(c)(4)'s should be operated exclusively, and then in 1959, the irs wrote this legislation for mysterious reasons, saying they could just be primarily social welfare. and the irs became a referee about is this primarily or is it not primarily? and finally, you're trying to
bring a lawsuit that will say to the irs, do your job, enforce the law that we, the congress, have written? >> well, that is right, lawrence, and you have had it exactly right. what we're asking the court to do is to instruct the irs to apply the law as it was written. the way the law was written, it was never intended that the irs would be in the business of trying to determine whether an organization that was seeking this special 501(c)(4) tax exempt status, whether it was primarily engaged in political activities or primarily engaged in social welfare activities. the law is clear, you can only get that status if you're exclusively involved in social welfare activities. and because they totally mangled the english language when they put forth the regulations, the guidelines, the irs has been in this position of trying to dig into the organizations, to say are you primarily involved in the social welfare organizations or political?
so they're saying let's clean that up. we would hope there is bipartisan support. the question is why did so many organizations and individuals decide to use these 501(c)(4) organizations as the vehicle for what has become political spending? and there are two reasons, one is the citizens united page, which said that corporations are people, too. so while they're nonprofit, lots of corporations and people can funnel money now behind 501(c)(4) organizations, as long as as it is less than 50% of their operations. and they can do it secretly.
and you can spend as much money as you want after citizens united trying to elect or defeat candidates. but guess what? the law says you have to disclose. you have to tell the public who you are. so if you want to engage in political activities, don't try and use the 501(c)(4) vehicle that was never intended for that purpose. use 527's. be above board. and provide the public with information about who you are and why you're engaged. >> i want to show some video of the acting irs commissioner danny werfel. basically testifying to the house and really asking for your help on this indirectly. let's listen to it. >> the ambiguity that's created between the law saying exclusive and the regulation saying primary is a problem. >> that's the problem that he needs help on and your lawsuit
seems to be the solution. >> we think a court will come to the conclusion as any fair-minded person, anyone who looks at the words, which is there is a huge distinction between something being your exclusive purpose and something being your primary purpose, and the gap between those two things is what has required the irs to go probe into the dealings of organizations, whether they're on the right or left. and turns out, they have had to look under the covers of organizations whether they're on the right or left. what we're saying is that the irs has never been intended to be in the business of finding out whether or not a 501(c)(4) organization was engaged in political business or not. those organizations were supposed to be involved in social welfare activities. if you want to be involved in political organizations, no problem, you don't have to pay a tax to be involved in this. but organize, and disclose to the public so there is no secret money flowing into the political election. >> well, congressman, i just want to double underline this
scandal element before we leave it. and that is that it is 50-year-old regulations, it is what the irs agents were looking at when they were sifting through these applications. and therefore, that is why they were trying to evaluate how much politicking are these organizations going to do, and what -- i think you and i are both saying tonight is that in doing that, they were doing what the regulation said they should be doing. and we now see the evidence, they were doing it with political organizations applying for these things across the board. left side, right side, every side was getting this kind of scrutiny. >> well, that is exactly right, the regulations said the irs had to determine whether your primary purpose was social welfare or whether it was political. and therefore, they had to look under the covers of these social organizations on the right or left. what we say is they have been totally inconsistent with the law.
which is if you want to engage in political activity, do it somewhere else. the 501(c)(4) are exclusively for social welfare activity. but you're absolutely right. they were trying to determine if the organizations were engaged in political activity based on this distorted interpretation of the law, we want to enforce the law as it was written. >> it is very clear to me that the administration was worried that if they tried to in effect, rewrite the organization, it would look like they were trying to rewrite the tea party groups out of this particular tax-exempt status. and i think going through the courts and having a judge read this very simple law and order it, enforce it, is the way to go. congressman, thank you very much for joining us. thank you for bringing this lawsuit to clarify this point that i've been harping on for 100 days now. >> thank you.
and now, joining me, former chief counsel for the house judiciary committee and former staff director for the house over sight committee, this is a classic washington tool when big corporations and other entities find themselves in conflict with the regulation that they believe is in conflict with the law, they go into federal court and they try to get that regulation bent in some way. or moved out of the way. >> that is right, and the question is can a member of congress get standing to do it. i think if chris van hollen, who has been a member, can get this, you have been out in front on the obama care you predicted that accurately, i think you may very well predict this accurately. the governing rule when you challenge this, basic issue is if congress is given an agency
discretion, then the courts generally defer to the agency and how they develop rules, so long as that discretion is used prudentially and appropriately. when congress has said in plain terms of the statute that you have to apply that standard, in those cases it is an open and shut case. the courts have ruled on this very many times that if an agency doesn't have this kind of discretion, if they don't abuse it, they will be slapped down. people, particularly the supreme court, have been conservatives on this issue. the justices, one of the principal parts of their jurisprudence has been the idea that federal agencies should not over-interpret statutes by congress and give an overly broad reading because that is an improper use of their authority. so it will be very interesting
to see where conservatives go. because van hollen's suit is totally in keeping with the jurisprudence here. >> this is the culmination of the campaign we have been waging here on this program. because we started to see after a few nights of us stressing this here on the program, with your help, julian, a few would raise this primarily versus exclusively thing. but very few people would notice it in the course of the hearing. but it would be built over time. i have to think they welcomed this lawsuit because they need a clarification here that political would be very difficult. because they would say look, everybody here has been making a mistake for 50 years, we, the obama administration, will straighten it out.
>> the most fascinating thing about this case is where the political party is going to line up. i would not be surprised. and haven't spoken to anybody inside the white house, but i wouldn't be surprised to see the white house not defend this. i think they should certainly not on legal grounds, certainly not -- they should not on legal grounds or political grounds. and as i just alluded to, it would be very interesting to see where the conservatives are, who have been making the argument on the delay on obama care, the carbon emissions, they have been making the argument that the agencies are going too far with their statutory authority to adopt these rules. they're way beyond their authority. it would be a total retreat for conservatives to impose the hollen suit. the other interesting thing is whether this gets into court. the courts have been skeptical about members of congress.
the famous case was recently when republicans tried to block obama going into libya. and the courts there ruled the members of congress didn't have standing. this case, however, is a little bit different, in the libya case, the courts ruled it was a political controversy, and congress had other mechanisms, like the appropriations mechanisms. this case is different for two reasons, one, you clearly have by the treasury department's regulations allowing for primary, rather than exclusive, as what is in the statute, you have what is effectively legislative nullification, the federal agency is nullifying the plain language that congress has enacted. secondly, i think the van hollen case is different than the libya case, is that van hollen and the libya case is likely to be the target of the multi-million dollar campaigns where they're totally anonymous. he can make a particular case, which is the requirement for
standing, that these campaigns that are being funded against him, are done by people who are using the cloak of secrecy and they don't have the entitlement of that cloak of secrecy that the 501(c)(4) grant actually gives them. so i think he has a relatively good case, and it is distinct from the libya and other cases. >> julian epstein, as usual, i've been learning a lot and taking notes. thank you. >> coming up, ted cruz remains the champion of republican lost causes. and as of tonight, he remains a canadian citizen. and in the rewrite, how a company mitt romney called a loser is not just re-writing success, it is re-writing the future. and today, chris christie endorsed the guy who was against federal aid for hurricane sandy
victims in new jersey. and he is in favor of arming teachers and he thinks our tax system was written by karl marx. true, coming up. check it out... over 20 million drivers are insured with geico. so get a free rate quote today. i love it! how much do you love it? animation is hot...and i think it makes geico's 20 million drivers message very compelling, very compelling. this is some really strong stuff! so you turned me into a cartoon...lovely. geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance. but you had to leave rightce to now, would you go? world, man: 'oh i can't go tonight' woman: 'i can't.' hero : that's what expedia asked me. host: book the flight but you have to go right now. hero: (laughs) and i just go? this is for real right? this is for real?
>> it has been 24 hours since senator ted cruz was forced to admit that he has canadian citizenship. but it may take ted cruz eight months to get rid of his canadian citizenship in order to sever ties with the country where he was born. he will have to pay 180 canadian dollars, and get a security clearance with the intelligence service and fill out a four-page form explaining his reasons for renouncing his citizenship. and then a judge in canada will decide. anyone giving up citizenship must proof that they are or will become a citizen of another country, not actually live in canada, and not be considered a security threat.
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now, why is it that every reporter in the media and a significant percentage of republicans assume with an impasse that president obama will never, ever give up his principles, so republicans have to give up theirs? if you have an impasse, you want to know one side or the other has to blink. how do we win this fight? don't blink. >> the senior senator from texas disagrees with his junior senator. >> even if you shut down the government, mandatory spending would continue to pay for the implementation of obama care. we're all on the same side when it comes to the objective. there is some difference of opinion as to the viability, or the likelihood of success of this particular tactic. >> a new survey from usa today
shows that -- let's see what is that? 8.5 million americans plan to use the health care exchanges to buy health insurance. that is 1.5 million more than originally estimated by the federal government. meanwhile, some republican lawmakers are facing tough questions about their attempts to de-fund obama care. >> why would you oppose it every time it was passed by the congress, passed by the senate, signed by the president of the united states, upheld by the supreme court of the united states, and upheld by the re-election of the president of the united states, who wondered, why would you oppose something that is helping now, going to bend the cost services in the future, why, congressman, why? >> joining me now is msnbc news reporter who is live at the heritage action de-fund obama care town hall tour stop in dallas. and msnbc's krystal ball.
casey, so that is why ted cruz brought the crusade tonight. and i assume it was friendly territory there? >> friendlier than canada probably would be these days. no, there were thousands of people who turned out here at this heritage action town hall. the ball rooms that you see behind me was packed. and everyone i talked to basically came to see ted cruz, or his father, rafael cruz, was here, and was a real hit with the crowd. this is the crowd ted cruz is playing to when he makes the stands in washington, that are so angering some of the colleagues he has, that say you know what? going through with this and potentially shutting down the government to de-fund this law could have enormous consequences for the republican party in the long run. >> and casey, what about the senior senator, who said that ted cruz is just plain hopelessly wrong about this?
>> well, you know, cornyn was on that letter, initially, that senator mike lee circulated that actually had been the root of all of this. and he actually pulled his name off. to the point he was angered. the crowd here tonight actually yelled john cornyn's name. there was another group that held a mock town hall with john cornyn, they said he wouldn't show up. so they had a cardboard cut out, saying this is the guy we don't support. >> krystal ball, ted cruz trying to find followers to this campaign, not working so well. >> that is an excellent point, the interesting thing here, you see with ted cruz, the town
hall, you see how cheap the rhetoric is, how the base eats it up. they love it, it is cheap, it is quote unquote, common sense to them. this is a monster that the republican party created to allowing them to take over their party. so now, mitch mcconnell, and john cornyn, when they're trying to explain the mechanics of this, it sounds so much less interesting than the red meat that ted cruz is able to throw. >> don't blink. it is common sense. >> don't blink. >> so mitch mcconnell is sort of hopelessly trying to explain the mechanics to a base that just wants to hear don't blink. >> but for cruz, going forward, in the senate, i mean, it is almost as if he is ignoring the fact that he is a senator. and he is behaving more like some kind of guy who is out
there just -- like jim demint is, no longer a senator. >> he is positioning himself as a voice, the anti-establishment voice, the true tea partier. it sprung up not only out of opposition to the democrats, he is trying to be their outsider voice and takes pride any time he can sort of stick it to the republican establishment. >> casey before we go, any word in the group tonight about ted cruz's confirmed citizenship? >> in this group, people were fairly dismissive, but a couple of weeks ago i was in iowa, cruz has been keeping a schedule that is going to put him in some of the early presidential primary states. i was there with the family leader. there were questions bubbling up about whether or not this was going to be an issue, as far as whether or not he was actually going to become eligible if he were to run. cruz addressed some questions about it at a press conference, before this town hall.
had he declined to speculate on whether or not he would he be able to run for president, should he decide to do so. >> msnbc's krystal ball, thank you for joining us both. >> and coming up, a new campaign on the stand your ground laws. la's known definitely for its traffic, congestion, for it's smog. but there are a lot of people that do ride the bus. and now that the busses are running on natural gas, they don't throw out as much pollution to the earth. so i feel good. i feel like i'm doing my part to help out the environment. like carpools... polly wants to know if we can pick her up. yeah, we can make room. yeah. [ male announcer ] ...office space.
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>> wait until they see steve lonegan on the united states floor of the senate. steve and i have believed and still believe in so many of the same things. >> here is something steve lonegan believes in, that chris christie did not mention today. >> do you think the federal government should be supplying funds in any way to any extent, if so? >> well, you know, the role of the federal government in this kind of catastrophe is questionable. if we're going to look at somebody's home being destroyed in a hurricane, and that is tragic for them, the home being destroyed. but remember, every day somebody in the country is suffering something of equal impact and we don't hand them a check, the role of federal government needs to be limited to the role of federal government. >> joining us now, ari melber, just in time, officially calling the race for cory booker, right
here, on whatever today's date is. >> you got to get it early. >> that guy is going nowhere. this is crazy, hopeless. i assumed this was chris christie's day to pretend, you know, he is with the right-wing lunatic running in new jersey and he will never mention his name again. >> i think the nicest thing you could say about him, he is the talk radio republican. >> sounds good to crazy people. >> sound good to them, exactly. >> and don't live in new jersey, by the way. >> a lot of them are not in new jersey, which is a fairly blue state, showing where his antenna is. there is a difference, even as the republican party moves right. there is a difference between governors and the republican party who we see say a lot of things but then actually are forced to govern. and we have to figure out if they want to work with the federal government, for example through health care, with the obama administration. many of them said one thing, do they just like the federal
government or do they want his support for national catastrophes like a hurricane, chris christie, if he has done one good thing this entire season, it was actually being separate up about that and being open about the fact he wanted to work with the president and get funding. lonegan doesn't even meet that standard. >> now, chris christie, democratic opponent, state senator cuomo, issuing a statement saying just like tea party extremists, steve lonegan, governor chris christie is anti-choice, anti-planned parenthood, anti-marriage equality, and anti-common sense to reduce gun violence. their views are completely out of touch with most of the people in new jersey. seemingly they want to bring the garden state back to the '50s, the chris christie/lonegan platform has no place in new
jersey. she will use that to say hey, you're not noticing just how chris christie is in some very important categories. >> right, i think the problem is at this point in new jersey, chris christie has earned his reputation, whatever you think of it, i don't know that it will be dragged down by this loser he beat once before. this guy really is white wing and extreme. in new jersey, he opposed family medical leave funding. which if you're a family values person and you want people to be able to take care of their loved ones. not the government, but be able to go home and do that, but having a child, he opposed that. the other piece that people should not forget, and the republicans wouldn't forget -- >> i won't forget, i'll write it down.
>> is that chris christie says he wants to help this guy, right? but he scheduled the election, to avoid being on the same ticket to deny this guy any of the chris christie bout. that is -- >> look at those notes. >> do i get a closer look? >> that, i think, is where his heart is at. >> ari melber, thank you for joining us on this historical race that we're calling for cory booker. all right, coming up in the rewrite, how the electric car company tesla motors is rewriting the future of the american automobile. and, trying to rewrite a texas law. before verizon i was with sprint,
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administration's usual top score of five stars. the model s has actually achieved a record high 5.4 stars. the model s received the highest record that exceeded the safety score for all sedans as well as all suvs and mini vans. the car's safety is based on two things, one, the very simple advantage of not having a very heavy gasoline engine planted right in front of the driver and front seat passenger. there is really nothing much under the hood in front of them, other than more trunk space. and that means in a front end collision, the front end of the car collapses more easily and smoothly than a car with a big fat gasoline engine under the hood. the front end of the tesla can absorb more of the shock and impact in a smoother way than other cars can. and therefore, it offers that much more protection to
passengers. and then there is tesla's obsession with safety. tesla clearly decided they wanted to get the highest safety score in history, and so when they pre-tested the car and found it would get top scores in every one of the administration's safety impact tests, tesla then searched the car to find what weaker points the body had that would actually never be tested by the safety administration. and then they strengthened those spots, too. and so tesla has produced not just the safest car in america, but the safest car in the world, and of course, detroit hates that. the other american automobile manufacturers don't actually hate tesla cars, but they do hate the way that they are sold. tesla doesn't use a network of dealerships the way ford, gm and all the other manufacturers too. tesla sells directly to
consumers. no dealership middlemen there, none of that stuff. of course, the industry feels threatened by that. and the new model of sales and so car dealers have been lobbying state legislatures around the country to block tesla wherever they can. tesla is a silicon valley start-up. and the tesla cars are made in california. and that liberal regulation, heavy state of california actually allows tesla to do business any way it wants to. so tesla has show rooms in california where they can sell cars directly to consumers. the manufacturers, selling directly through their own show rooms. and you can also order a tesla on line in california. but in rick perry's texas, automobile sales are much, much more regulated by the government. because the automobile dealerships demand it. so that they can maintain their
monopolies over the sale of new cars. in texas, new cars can only be sold by automobile dealership and never directly by the manufacturer. so tesla has show rooms in texas, which they call galleries, because texas law prevents tesla from selling cars to their manufacturers in their show rooms. but about 700 texans have done that, and tesla is committed to supporting its customers in texas. the company is building super charger stations throughout texas, so owners can plug in free of charge along several of texas's major highways. the san marcos super charger station opened today. and when the texas legislature goes back to work, tesla will go back to pushing legislation that will allow the company to
actually sell cars in its texas show rooms. governor rick perry says he supports the bill that would allow manufacturers to sell automobiles directly to consumers. but he didn't support it enough to prevent it from dying in the last legislative session. we can't wait to hear the anti-regulation texas legislators making their speeches on the floor of the texas house and senate against texans' right to walk into a tesla show room to buy the safest car in the world. hero: if you had a chance to go anywhere in the world, but you had to leave right now, would you go? man: 'oh i can't go tonight' woman: 'i can't.' hero : that's what expedia asked me. host: book the flight but you have to go right now. hero: (laughs) and i just go? this is for real right? this is for real?
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>> i think they're yelling help, but i don't know. >> does he look hurt? >> i can't see him, i don't want to go out there, i don't know what is going on. do you think he is yelling help? >> yes. >> there was a gunshot. >> you're saying they shot who? >> a guy, he is raising his hands up, saying he shot a person, oh, my god. >> he has somebody at gunpoint -- they're going to handle the situation from here. >> oh, my god. it is a young boy. oh, god.
>> new york city mayoral candidate bill thompson saw a connection between the killing of trayvon martin and new york city's stop-and-frisk program, when he said here in new york city we have institutionalized this, with our ability to stop young black men to stop and frisk them because of the color of their skin, if our government profilings people because of their skin color and treats them as potential criminals, how can we expect citizens to do any less? joining me now, mayoral candidate bill thompson, that point where we have the new york city police officers acting, initiating stops and frisks, based on exactly the kind of stuff george zimmerman was using, luckily we're not talking about professionals, killing people when they do it. but thousands of stop-and-frisks
have been based on that or less than what george zimmerman thought. >> well, if you look at hundreds of thousands of stops and frisks, and over the years there have been thousands. i think the way the stop and frisk has been conducted in the city of new york violates the constitutional rights, i agree with that. i think it is a policy that has been misused and abused by the city's administration. >> what would you do as mayor on this issue? >> well, i think there are a number of things, eliminate profiling. it can be done. it requires a mayor who takes responsibility in leadership and hires a police commissioner who will do the same thing. i made recommendations earlier -- >> you want a new police commissioner? >> absolutely, i have indicated i wouldn't keep ray kelly as police commissioner. i also think it is getting more individuals back to training for police officers, and what
constitutes a real stop, and what it means. and quotass, that are attached to stop-and-frisk. them saying you give me five 250s, and four today, and stop that. looking for results, not just stops, looking for legitimate results. and when people are stopped having an officer hand them a reason why. this is the reason you were stopped and at least explain that. there are a number of things that need to be done to eliminate the abuse of stop-and-frisk, to make sure people are no longer profiled. i am committed to that and would make sure as mayor that that happens. >> but mayor, the police commissioner, ray kelly, reacting to the federal judge's opinion seemed to be talking past the judge and each other. the judge is talking constitutional principles. and they are talking practicality. they are saying hey, well, this
is a program working well for us, we like the statistical results we're getting from the program, they're not hearing what the judge is saying. >> when they look at the statistical results, 92% of the people stopped were black and latino. and the results were minimal. if anything, you saw more people turning their pockets out, when they found marijuana, that was the big result, it was not huge in getting guns and weapons off the street. it is a police tool, unfortunately, under a bloomberg and ray kelly administration, it has become a policy. it should not be that. >> well, i look at the numbers. and the overwhelming majority, more than 80% of these stops involve completely innocent people who have absolutely no reason to be stopped. what the mayor and the police commissioner don't seem to be recognizing is every one of those people is dissatisfied with their inter action.
to restore that faith in the way the city government, and what you had as police officers doing their job, following this policy that has been pushed on them. if anything, it has pushed them further apart. >> yeah, that is a mistake, and the mayor and commissioner, seem not the understand that. that it has probably done more to damage relationships between black and latino communities and the police department and police officers than anything else that could be done. >> 21 days to go. what is the key to getting to the victory line here? >> i think it is just turnout, making sure people come out and vote. if people come out and vote, i'm confident that either i'm going to get to 40% or that will keep you out of the run off -- >> i'm no longer a new york city voter, you are wasting your time there.
bill, thank you very much for joining us tonight. new york city mayoral candidate bill thompson gets tonight's last word. >> economic sabotage. there's news that some are plotting the explosion over the default of the national debt. the plot is to tie the regular vote to extend the debt ceiling to the obliteration of the affordable care act. according to the plans linked to right leaning organizations, it would detonate a refusal to make good on american debt. the first time this has happened in this country's history it could explode the economic order.